Tyneside businessman Barry Moat has been given extra time to come up with the financial backing to buy out Newcastle owner Mike Ashley.
In a development which surprised few this morning, the Magpies announced that Moat has been given an extension to allow him time to persuade Barclays Bank that he is able to service the club's existing £39million overdraft facility.
A statement released by the club read: "Newcastle United confirm that we have extended our deadline to Barry Moat to table an offer for the club.
"The extension is being granted in order to allow Barry Moat and his advisers to conclude funding arrangements with Barclays, current banker, for the continuation of last season's £39million facility.
"This would allow a formal offer to be tabled."
Moat now faces a race against the clock to come up with a financial package which will satisfy both Barclays and Ashley, although two other consortia are also still in talks with the hierarchy at St James' Park.
Few commentators expected today's announcement would confirm decisive action in a saga which has been ongoing for around three months, and it will leave the club's fans with mixed feelings.
Moat is understood to be ready to install Alan Shearer as manager if his bid is successful, while the former skipper is also thought to be favoured by the other interested parties.
However, unless any of them meet Ashley's £100million asking price and can demonstrate they have the backing to run the club, there is a very real possibility it could ultimately remain in the hands of the current regime.
In that event, the current owner, who shelved earlier plans to sell in December last year after a fruitless worldwide search for a buyer, would then face a major decision over who takes charge of team affairs.
Ashley is understood to feel that Shearer, who was at the helm for the final eight games of last season, lacks the experience to be appointed on a permanent basis, and several experienced bosses, including Joe Kinnear, have been sounded out.
However, Chris Hughton, currently acting as caretaker for the third time, has done his own cause little harm after guiding Newcastle to three wins and a draw in their first four Coca-Cola Championship matches, a return which leaves them among a posse of four clubs on 10 points at the top of the table.
An added complication is the summer transfer window, which closes on Tuesday next week.
That leaves the club little or no time in which to push through transfer moves whoever is holding the purse strings, and with Hughton's squad having been reduced by a net nine bodies to date and speculation still rife over Steven Taylor's future, one serious injury to a key player could have a catastrophic effect.Reuse content